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Tampa police sergeant dons gas mask to rescue disabled man from house fire

Thick smoke from a fire at 7903 N Greenwood Ave. turned Tampa police back at first. But Sgt. Larry Brass donned a gas mask and went back in through a window to save a disabled 68-year-old man and his two dogs. [Courtesy of Tampa Fire Rescue]
Published Jun. 10, 2017

TAMPA — A police sergeant donned a gas mask, broke out a window and plunged into a burning house on Friday to rescue a 68-year-old disabled man.

Sgt. Larry Brass, with help from postal carrier, rescued the man and his two dogs.

The fire broke out about 1:20 p.m. Friday at 7903 N Greenwood Ave., south of Busch Boulevard near 40th Street. The Tampa Police Department gave this account of the incident:

Brass and three officers arrived at the scene and learned from postal carrier Larry Moss that the man inside was disabled and likely unable to get out on his own. Moss was delivering mail when he came upon the fire.

The officers knocked out a window in front of the house but were confronted by smoke that was dangerously thick and dark.

Brass, a 19-year department veteran, grabbed a gas mask he keeps in his car and entered the home through the same window. Minutes later, he brought Sims to the window and handed him to the other officers.

Brass also saved a pit bull named Tank but had to get to the back of the house to rescue a second pit bull, Rosie. He kicked out an air conditioning unit and got the dog to safety through the hole.

Charnele Baker, Richard Caldwell and Peter Sierra were the officers who aided Brass.

Tampa Fire Rescue said the fire was brought under control at 1:51 p.m. The cause is under investigation but the fire does not appear to be suspicious, police said.

A fire investigator has determined that the fire started possibly swarded from an electrical malfunction related to an air conditioner. The home is considered a total loss, and damages estimated to be $325,000, Tampa Fire Rescue said.

Sims was taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. Brass and Moss also were taken to the hospital to be checked out.

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